lae astra :: “Callus”

There was callus tissue on our monstera propagation
near the bottom of the cutting. I thought it was mold
and cleaned some off when changing the water.

I looked it up after and learned that callus are cells
that cover a plant wound. That the tissue has the potential
to develop into parts that the plant needs, like shoots

and roots, an attempt to focus its energy toward growth.
I felt bad for removing it in my ignorance. Apologized
to this monstera who has been through so much,

whom we first met at the plants floor of the Tokyu Hands
department store in Shibuya, “just looking” turning into
bringing the monstera home, the leaves facing outward

with us as the blue Tokyo dusk and skyscraper lights
melted into night. Our first plant together. You said
your dream was to live surrounded by plants overlooking

the city. A first step toward that, sharing breath
in the living room with our paintings and instruments.
The monstera kept going, despite mealybug attacks,

sunburn, rotting roots. One leaf after another
withered and dried. Despite the trauma,
the leaves we saved continued fighting to survive.

Energy from sunlight transformed into an expanding
network from callus cells. Primary, secondary, tertiary.
A few months after I first notice them,

enough roots have grown for our monstera to live in soil.
A shiny new leaf has just emerged. I can’t stop checking it
every day. How incredible that they keep trying despite

so much loss. That from the wounds, they still bravely
send out bridges connecting them to life.


lae astra (they/them) is an agender trans artist and writer who calls Tokyo home. Their writing has appeared in AstrolabeGone LawnOverheardStar*LineStrange Horizons, and elsewhere. They are a Pushcart, Best Microfiction, and Rhysling Award nominee. Find them at